Today, the Prime Minister and the Government of Belize hosted it's 3rd Annual Business Forum. As we've featured in our news before, the purpose of this gathering is to bridge the gap between the public and private sector.
Today's agenda was all about how this partnership can help to develop Belize's Economy, and at the Opening Ceremony Prime Minister Dean Barrow took the opportunity to remind the attendees that his Government has been working diligently toward this goal.
Here's an excerpt of his keynote address:
Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"On the productive sector side we did put substantial initial emergency funds into sugar and made sustained and ultimately successful attempts to attract a heavyweight investor to buy over the BSI mill and avert industry collapse. Of course a second major investment in sugar leading to the construction of a new factory in the west is now well underway. Then to complete what has been a little bit of a magic circle in large scale agriculture we intervene also with both money and good offices in citrus helping to forge a new modus vivendi between local and foreign stakeholders. Third, in energy, we have kept the lights on and BEL with good domestic management and help from the rain has recovered its financial viability and has been reducing electricity rates and in telecommunications we have been continuously been lowering the cost to the consumer and expanding the facilities including new internet arrangements. Very shortly GOB and Telemedia will make a joint announcement regarding better and cheaper internet services. Then we have sought to support the growth and development of our greatest source of export earnings and employment, the tourism industry, through the promotion of both foreign and domestic investment in accommodation and transportation. We have also invested in public spaces destination facelifts and it has all paid off wonderfully as we have recorded several successive years of phenomenal growth."
For the frank dialog and the strides made in ensuring that both the public and private sectors are on the same page, Government is making moves to ensure that the relationship does not devolve. The move to secure the position is being done by way of turning that body into an official government entity. This will ensure that the dialog with the private sector continues. That body is known as the Economic Development Council, and today, the Co-Chairs explained to us that it will become a permanent part of the Office of the Prime Minister:
Mike Singh - Co-Chair, Economic Development Council
"On an annual basis we try to have an outreach to sit with the private sector and to share what we are doing and to find out from the private sector what they would like to see us do. So, more than talking to people about promoting government agenda, it's more a matter of us discussing to ensure that government agenda is where the private sector would like to see it be for them to grow. It's been a really good feedback model and I think it's something that we want to build on and as a matter of fact we are moving to the next phase. The Economic Development Council is now being formalize as a permanent institution in government."
Amparo Masson - Co-Chair, Economic Development Council
"Right now we are at the point where are doing all the work necessary to institutionalize the Economic Development Council to give it longevity, continuity, sustainability, so that beyond government changes the economic development council will be there to hopefully play its role."
Currently, there are 10 members on the Economic Development Council: 5 very senior Private Sector Representatives, and 5 Government CEO's.